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This may also be well supported from a variety of other passages of scripture, and is a consequence of different truths contained in the word of God. For example, our natural state is, in fcripture, compared to death, and our recovery to our being restored to life. Thus the apostle Paul in writing to the Ephefians says, “ And you hath " he quickened who were dead in trespasses and 6 fins.” And a little after, “ But God, who " is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith " he loved us, even when we
DEAD “ in fins, hath quickened us together with « Christ *.” To the same purpose the apostle John says, “ We know that we have passed from
DEATH to life t." The change is sometimes described by pafling from darkness to light, than which two things none can stand in greater opposition to one another. " Ye were sometimes “ darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord 1." Every one must be sensible how easy it would be to multiply passages of the same kind. But this I forbear, and only wish we had all of us a deep impression of the meaning and importance of these upon our hearts.
It will not be improper, however, to observe how plainly the fame truth appears from the power which the scripture represents as exerted
" By grace
in bringing a sinner from a state of nature to a state of grace. It is constantly affirmed to be the work of God, the effect of his power, nay, the exceding greatness of his power,
ye are saved, through faith, and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God $.”. “ Work “ out your own salvation with fear and trembling, «s for it is God that worketh in you to will and “ to do of his good pleasure. And what is the
exceeding greatness of his power to us ward 66 who believe, according to the working of his 166 mighty power which he wrought in Chrift 66 when he raised him from the dead 7.” Now is there any need of a divine agent to perform a work of no moment? Would it be celebrated as an effect of the power of God, if it were not truly great?
Let me now, in the most earnest manner, befeech every person who reads these lines, to confider deliberately with himself what is the import of this truth, and how firmly it is established. It appears that regeneration, repentance, converfion, or call it what you will, is a very great change from the state in which every man comes into the world. This appears from our Saviour's affertion, that we must be “ born again.” It appears from a great variety of other fcripture
phrases, and is the certain consequence of some of the most effential doctrines of the gospel.
With what jealousy ought this to fill many of the state of their souls? How flight and inconsiderable a thing is it that with multitudes passes for religion? especially in these days of serenity and sunshine to the church, when they are not compelled by danger to weigh the matter with deliberation? A few cold forms, a little outward decency, some faint defires, rather than endeayours, is all they can afford for securing their everlasting happiness. Can the weakness and insufficiency of these things poslibly appear in a ftronger light than when true religion is confidered as a new creation, and a second birth? If the inspired writers be allowed to express themselves either with propriety or truth, it is painful to think of the unhappy deluded state of so great a number of our fellow-finners.
Will so great a change take place, and yet have no visible effect? Had any great change happened in your worldly circumstances, from riches to poverty, or from poverty to riches, all around you would have speedily discerned it. Had any such change happened in your health, it had been impossible to conceal it. Had it happened in your intellectual accomplishments, from ignorance to knowledge, it would have been quickly celebrated. How comes it then to be quite un
discernible, discernible, when it is from fin to holiness? I am sensible that men are very ingenious in justifying their conduct, and very successful in deceiving themselves. They will tell us that religion is a hidden ching, not to be feen by the world, but lying open to his view who judgeth the fecrets of all hearts. And doubtless this is, in one view, a great truth : true religion is not given to oitentation ; diffident of itself, it is unwilling to promise much, left it should be found wanting. But it ought to be confidered that, however concealed the inward principle may be, the practical effects must of necessity appear. As one table of the moral law consists entirely of our duty to others, whoever is born again, and renewed in the spirit of his mind, will be found a quite different person from what he was before, in his converfation with his fellow-creatures.
Hypocritical pretences to extraordinary sanctity are indeed highly criminal in themselves, and extremely odious in the fight of God. But the present age does not seem to have the least tendency to this extreme. There is another thing much more common, not less absurd, and infinitely more dangerous to mankind in general : a demand upon the public, that, by an extraordinary effort of charity, they should always fup. pose the reality of religion in the heart, when there is not the least fymptom of it in the life.
Nay, Nay, some are hardly satisfied even with this, but-infift that men should believe well of others, not only without, but against evidence. A bad opinion expressed of a man, éven upon the most open instances of prophanity, is often answered with, “ What have you to do to judge the “ heart?" It is amazing to think what inward confolation finners derive to themselves from this claiin of forbearance from their fellow-creatures. Let me beseech all such to consider, that as God cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked, lo · in truth they usually deceive none but themselves. Every human affection, when it is strong and lively, will discover itself by its apparent effects ; and it is as true of religious affections as of any other, that “ the tree is known by its fruits."
But if they have reason to suspect themfelve's whose change is not visible to others, how much more those, who, if they deal faithfully, must confefs they are quite strangers to any such thing in their own hearts. I do not mean that every person should be able to give an account of the cine and manner of his conversion. This is often effected in fo flow and gradual a manner, that it cannot be confined to a precise or parti-cular period. But surely those who are no way fenfible of any change in the course of their affections, and the objects at which they are pointed, can scarcely think that they are born again, or